Oh shit. It’s buggered, mate. These are desperate times if you’re British and living in Europe, but probably worse if you’re British and living in Britain, and even worse still if you’re from a European country and living in Britain, but there’s no saving the place now. Somehow, by a series of bizarre constitutional cock-ups, the UK has allowed itself to be hijacked by blatant, and blatantly incompetent, liars who have driven it through a wormhole and now it’s gone. It’s vanished. Stupid sad fucking idiots gone down a hole.
The saddest Brits of all must be those who said this wasn’t a vote “out of Europe, but out of the EU,” because of TTIP, because of the Greek bailouts – they got the wrong end of the stick altogether. All the clever lefty Brexiters achieved was to amplify the already amplified voices of the racist ones, and there were a lot more of those.
Whatever. The Brexit itself we’ll cope with, one way or another – normal people will have massive bureaucratic hangovers while a big fool best known for writing foolish books spends years negotiating the country to an economic position slightly worse than it was in before. All for a tiny collective patriotic wankgasm.
So be it. While that happens we’ve got much scarier things to deal with. So far Europe’s leaders are just trying to get things back to normal – which is understandable, but they’re ignoring the fact that the UK’s referendum was just a symptom of a much bigger sickness: a far-right threat exactly like in the 1930s, a culture where Nazi marches and street violence and arson attacks have somehow become an accepted part of our lives. Merkel reacted to Brexit in her usual comatose way, saying that we can let Britain stay half-in-half-out for a few months, while everyone, or “the markets”, or something, calms down.
Her instinct is to manage and cope. It’s an instinct that has got her a long way, to be fair – hold things in place, and don’t move, hope no one will notice, sort of political Kerplunk – but it’s not going to do anything to stop this surge of vicious old-style nationalism in every single European country.
The only good thing that’s come out of this Brexit car-crash – and it really is the only good thing – is that people have started thinking about what the European Union actually is, and why it’s good and why it’s bad. Those Brits looked pretty daft googling the EU on referendum night – yep, hilarious – but now google it yourself. Merkel, or President of the European Commision Jean-Claude Juncker, or whoever, have sat for too long in secret, quietly managing it and even now – when the EU is actually facing an existential threat – they just want to carry on as before. The EU’s leaders need to get over their stability fetish, because it’s an illusion. What we need now is a totally new European government, one that people can replace democratically, rather than question whether they even want or not.
So here are two ideas: The European Commission should be controlled by the EU parliament, and the parliament, which is the only bit currently elected, needs to have the power to make laws. Like a normal government. Also, the EU parliament should have a second chamber, like the US Senate or the Bundesrat, where member states can represent their specific regional interests.
These aren’t radical ideas. I got them from the 10-point plan that the SPD’s Sigmar Gabriel and Martin Schulz presented last weekend. There are other good ideas around. But we need to seize them and the new interest in the EU, because euro-scepticism, or euro-phobia, or euro-apathy is the start of nationalism and it’s definitely not just a British thing. If we don’t, sacrificing Britain will have been for nothing.